Dave Brown of the Philadelphia Flyers was suspended for 15 games yesterday, one of the stiffest penalties ever assessed by the National Hockey League.

Brown was punished for a stick attack Oct. 26 on Tomas Sandstrom of the New York Rangers. While the Flyers accepted the decision by NHL Executive Vice President Brian O'Neill, the Rangers called it "a travesty."

Brown will be permitted to return to action in a home game against New Jersey Dec. 6. However, he must sit out games against the Rangers Dec. 10 and Dec. 22.

Only two players, Tom Lysiak of Chicago (20 games in 1983-84) and Eddie Shore of Boston (16 games in 1933-34) have been banned longer. Lysiak was suspended for tripping linesman Ron Foyt. Shore was barred for slashing Ace Bailey of Toronto in the kidney, an injury that ended Bailey's career.

Wilf Paiement, then of Colorado, was suspended 15 games in 1978-79 for a stick foul that caused serious facial injury to Dennis Polonich of Detroit. Paiement's penalty included all remaining games against the Red Wings.

Another notorious stick-swinging incident, between Bernie Geoffrion of Montreal and Ron Murphy of the Rangers in 1953-54, resulted in a broken jaw for Murphy. Geoffrion was ruled out of his team's eight remaining games against the Rangers that season.

Sandstrom was considered very fortunate to have escaped a serious injury when Brown charged him from behind while play was stopped and cross-checked him in the neck.

With the NHL emphasizing a crackdown on foul play, a longer suspension had been expected.

"In my judgment, this was a deliberate action by Brown, in which he severely cross-checked Sandstrom in the facial area," O'Neill said. "Sandstrom was unaware that he was about to be struck and was unable to defend himself.

"Although Sandstrom had done nothing apparent to provoke Brown, the Flyers' player came from behind and moved several feet to reach Sandstrom before delivering the blow. He had time to consider his actions."

O'Neill took note of the fact that it was Brown's second assault on Sandstrom in eight months. The last time, Brown drew a five-game suspension, which the Flyers bitterly protested in a press release signed by team president Jay Snider that questioned O'Neill's ruling.

The Flyers did not protest yesterday's decision.

General Manager Bob Clarke said, "This was his second incident. If 15 games doesn't convince a player not to do that, he's not much good to you. I don't think it takes any genius to figure out if you hit a guy like that and get a 15-game suspension, he's not helping the hockey team."

Brown, a right wing whose career statistics include 23 goals and 849 penalty minutes, said, "It was an unfortunate incident. I take full responsibility for what happened. I'll abide by Mr. O'Neill's ruling. After the suspension, I'll get on with the season. I think there's been enough said."

The Rangers disagreed. General Manager Phil Esposito and Coach Michel Bergeron were told to avoid individual comment. Instead, a strong statement was issued on behalf of the team and Madison Square Garden.

In part, it read: "The penalty is a travesty, given the gravity of the offense. Madison Square Garden and the New York Rangers are outraged by the length of the suspension and feel it is not severe enough.

"The severity of the action, a deliberate and unprovoked attempt to injure, the check being delivered from behind and the fact that this was a second offense all call for a more severe penalty in our opinion.

"Although we realize the suspension matches in length the previous most severe in league history {Paiement's}, it also should be noted that the previous suspension took place eight years ago."

Brown will next appear in Madison Square Garden on Jan. 17 and Coach Mike Keenan made it clear that he most likely would be shadowing Sandstrom.

"Certainly I'm not going not to match Dave Brown against Tomas Sandstrom because of this," Keenan said. "He's a good defensive player, capable of checking anybody in this league."